Tag Archives: railroad

Vanishing train to Bamako

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Dakar train station (Image: ginaber.blogspot.com)

This time I’m writing about a trip I have not taken, I wish I could have taken, but unfortunately I’m not likely to be able to take any time soon. A train trip. Dakar, which I did have a chance to visit, is the Western terminus of the railroad built by the French almost a hundred years ago. The railroad connected Dakar with the city of Bamako, today the capital of Mali. The line opened in 1923 and linked the biggest cities in colonial French West Africa, connecting the Atlantic coast with the vast, mineral-rich hinterland along the Niger river. Nearly 800 miles across the arid land and baobab-studded savanna in between… Although once considered one of the most luxurious train rides in Africa, sadly its glory days are over. But even after its heyday, the trip must have been quite an experience and, vicariously, I feel I’ve had a taste of it through the writings of a Polish traveler and author Ryszard Kapuściński. In his great book The Shadow of the Sun he vividly describes a trip from Dakar to Bamako he took back in the 1960s, reflecting upon larger changes underway in Africa at that time. Read the rest of this entry

Un-Conventional Tampa

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Tampa

Downtown Tampa

The non-stop news cycle from the Republican National Convention in Tampa last week was for the most part nauseatingly repetitive (check the word cloud: “America” – “President” – “Mitt Romney”) and occasionally hilariously bizarre (thank you, Clint Eastwood). But now that it’s over, I want to reconnect with a meaning of the word “Tampa” that does not equal the RNC. To me that meaning goes back some years ago when I had a chance to visit.

Tampa is not necessarily on Florida’s A-list of destinations. It doesn’t have the vibrancy of Miami, history and natural charm of Pensacola, or Orlando’s Disney World (ok it has Busch Gardens but it doesn’t quite measure up). When I was there is also felt in a large part under construction with street closures and cranes dotting the landscape. So to me the highlights were a few special, memorable places rather than the city as a whole. Read the rest of this entry